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Which Animals are You Likely to See on a Safari in Kenya?

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Matthys van Aswegen

Safari Travel Planner

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Matthys van Aswegen

Author: Matthys van Aswegen - 12 August 2021

Last Update: 30 January 2024

Kenya is a gem tucked away in East Africa. It is a land blessed with some of the world’s most magnificent natural treasures.

With breathtaking mountain ranges, incredible rift valleys, hot springs, wildlife parks, and even beaches! The country’s various landscapes are unlike anything else on the planet, and it’s a location where visitors may find rest, thrill, and, of course, animals! 

Two lions and a safari vehicle in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Two lions and a safari vehicle in Masai Mara, Kenya.

You’re undoubtedly wondering what you’ll see, and while we can’t promise you’ll see every single species on the planet, we can assure you that it will get pretty close in Kenya. We’ll answer any of your wildlife queries and even point you in the direction of where these magnificent creatures may be found on a safari in Kenya.

Elephant

Elephants are the world’s largest mammal and a popular tourist attraction. They’re gregarious animals that live in herds and can be observed munching on tree leaves or bathing in the water.

Elephants with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
Elephants with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

Tsavo East National Park, Amboseli National Park, and Samburu National Park are where you’ll locate them.

Zebra

The Plains zebra, the uncommon Grevy’s zebra, and the mountain zebra are three species of zebras that belong to the horse family. What’s even better is that the rare Grevy’s zebra can only be found in a few areas in northern Kenya.

Zebras being observed by a safari vehicle, Kenya.
Zebras being observed by a safari vehicle, Kenya.

Their unique markings and colours are a pleasure to behold and, once again, make for fantastic photographs on a photographic safari! If you wish to see Grevy’s Zebra, go to Masai Mara National Reserve, Tsavo East and West National Park, or Lewa Conservancy.

Rhino

The rhino is a must-see because it is one of the most endangered creatures on African soil. Their numbers have plummeted as a result of poaching, and it is estimated that there are only about 30 000 rhinos left on the earth, most of which live in South Africa.

Rhino with her calf in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.
Rhino with her calf in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.

Seeing a rhino in the wild is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should not miss out on! Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Lake Nakuru National Park are where you’ll find them.

Giraffe

The giraffe, the world’s tallest mammal, must be seen on a Kenyan safari. Another tourist favourite, these lovely animals are always so calm and composed and are thankfully simple to detect due to their lofty size and hilariously protruding necks.

Giraffes in Meru National Park, Kenya.
Giraffes in Meru National Park, Kenya.

Meru National Park is where you’ll find them.

Wildebeest

The wildebeest migrate in huge numbers across Kenya and Tanzania, as part of the natural display known as the Great Migration. Wildebeest and zebra coexist, and both are on lions’ and other predators’ menus, making a migration safari the ideal way to see nature in its purest and most ‘cruel’ form.

Wildebeest crossing the Mara river during the annual Great Migration, Kenya.
Wildebeest crossing the Mara river during the annual Great Migration, Kenya.

Masai Mara and Amboseli National Park are where you’ll locate them.

African Buffalo

African buffalo dwell in large herds, sometimes numbering in the thousands. Seeing them run through Africa’s sandy plains is a sight to behold and it will that make for a great photo!

Herd of buffalo in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
Herd of buffalo in Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

Amboseli National Park is where you’ll locate them.

Cheetahs

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest animals. Seeing them dart about at full speed would be a sight to behold! Cheetahs are more active in the mornings, yet they are difficult to notice, just like leopards. If something speeds past you, creating a slight blur, you may have just seen a cheetah.

Mother cheetah with her two cubs in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Mother cheetah with her two cubs in Masai Mara, Kenya.

Where to look for them: Make sure you visit Samburu National Park and Masai Mara to try your luck at seeing these magnificent cats.

Lions

I’m sure seeing the king of the jungle is high on your list of must-sees, and the good news is that they’re plentiful in Kenya. While you’re most likely to notice them hunting at dawn or dusk, keep an eye out for any tiny movements under a shady tree during the day. This is where they go to cool off in the scorching African sun.

Lion mother with her cub in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Lion mother with her cub in Masai Mara, Kenya.

Where to look for them: From July to September, if you follow the Great Migration across the Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve, you’ll almost certainly encounter a lion pride. During this time, many mammals are migrating to new pastures, which means there is a greater chance of seeing a kill!

Leopards

Leopards are one of the most charismatic cats in the wild, but because they live lonely lives, finding one can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Remember, they like to sleep in trees away from the scavengers, especially if they’ve just killed something. So, focus on the trees and you’ll thank us later!

Leopard in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Leopard in Masai Mara, Kenya.

Masai Mara National Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park are also good places to look for them.

Nile Crocodile

The Nile crocodile is a terrifying beast. They are the largest of all African crocodiles, growing up to 6 meters in length. While they prefer fish, they will eat just about anything they can get their hands on. So, any unsuspecting animals that come to drink at the water will have a hard time if there’s a croc lurking about!

Nile crocodile resting on a mudbank in the Mara River in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Nile crocodile resting on a mudbank in the Mara River in Masai Mara, Kenya.

They live in the Masai Mara and are abundant in the Mara river, which is where you may find them.

Hippos

Hippos are terrestrial mammals, but they prefer to spend the majority of their time in the water because they feel safer there. Because they are aggressive and territorial, make sure to give them enough space to avoid them feeling threatened.

One thing is certain: no matter how slow and clumsy they appear, you will never be able to outrun these gigantic animals!

Hippo in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Hippo in Masai Mara, Kenya.

Where to look for them: Masai Mara National Reserve is where you’ll find them!


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